FG can’t sack workers even when refineries aren’t working —Sylva

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has announced that the Federal Government is preserving the workforce at the nation’s four refineries for use when the refineries are finally fixed.

Though the refineries have not been in operational conditions for a few years, the Minister says that laying off staff is not an option because it is no fault of theirs that the refineries run by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation have been shut down.

Nigeria, has for decades been importing the bulk of its refined petroleum products as a result of the inability of its refineries to refine crude oil produced within the country.

speaking on Monday night while featuring on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme monitored by The PUNCH, the minister said laying off workers at the non-performing refineries is ‘a knotty issue’ as there are many labour issues to contend with should the government decide to take any action in that line.

Sylva maintained, “If we continue to preserve the workforce, then it means that we are serious of getting to use this workforce in the future. If you lay them off and fix the refineries, you will have to go looking for them to employ again. It is because we want to fix those refineries that we have kept them.

“The refineries are down but it doesn’t mean we are not going to fix those refineries again and we will require these experts. If Nigerians are saying the refineries should be fixed, then they should know that at the end of the day, we will still need the workforce, these experienced people to man these refineries when they are fixed.

“This is in addition to the fact that there are kinds of labour issues you will have to deal with if you have to sack all those refinery workers.”

The minister, who expressed optimism that with the deregulation of the sector, the refineries will function optimally, noted that the Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery will be signed next month.

He stated, “In December, we are going to sign the EPC for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery and the rest other two will follow.

“Five modular refineries are on stream; one is going to be commissioned tomorrow (Tuesday) and together, they will produce about 50,000 barrels per day.”

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